A view on Fishing,Community and Life on the NW coast of Scotland

Posts tagged ‘Sheildaig’


A day to enjoy, with assembling another super for the hive and doing a bit of book work so could call into the bank in Lochcarron on the way over to the highlight of a massage from Sarah, or “mangle” as Andy called it as I went in. Brighter day and the light and views on the way there were bearable.


Have not been for over five weeks and it hurt, hurt badly. Did not help having a bit of a head but the benefits are worth it just now. It is a refuge from the frantic pace of life, even up here we get stressed. At the end of the “mangle” I was introduced to a new, to me, complimentary natural “medicine” for the want of a better description. Found it fascinating but a little far out to explain for the time being and ties in with previous experiences when meditating with many like-minded people. Receiving a complimentary description is always appreciated, not being told that you are “good” or “nice” but intuitive, receptive and open-minded, all important to me, and you can talk with a calmness about the local issues. Although there was a meeting about taking the wood out the north coast last night, it was far from my mind but seems it is being discussed in Shieldaig and not with approval. There is considerable disquiet there at the prospect. I served the constituents of the meeting last night at the Inn and did not go as I was working and speaking to other people who did not go who were of the same opinion as me that it is done and dusted. Although a little more closed in I could live in Shieldaig, has not quite got the expanse of Applecross, but it would do.


On the way out I saw the Seaflower coming in and stopped to take a snap. Camera is starting to act up and they were alongside the new community pontoon before I managed a couple of photos. Still a very stiff breeze as you can see Kenny had jumped off and was pulling hard to get her bow in to the pontoon. Little surprised they were out although it would have been far more sheltered in the loch than on the Sound.


The bike race is coming up again and people are realising the absurdity of holding a race on a bank holiday involving a road closure. After trying to negotiate with the organisers early on with improvements to the running of their events on how they affect Applecross, we have taken a back seat having got nowhere. We have reasoned that these events are important to neighbouring villages and it was not worth the antagonism. But holding the event on a bank holiday has been a step too far and from conversations I have had it will not be happening again. I am always keen to observe how I deal with these issues and feel relatively calm about them. Will not support the timber going out by road as I believe it is the most detrimental way to solve the problem and that was confirmed last night by the professional who told me the pier was still the best option, but so be it. The cycle race will be changed and again so be it. Had a chat about the road between Camusterrach and Culduie last night and it was promised to be sorted, nice, simple and pleasant way to sort a problem. The shift last night was very pleasing mainly through meeting a lovely couple from Vancouver and connecting with some regulars from Glasgow. As usual this makes it and having a bit of banter with the lady who requested that the kitchen freeze some langoustine so she could have some, as she was pregnant, topped of the night.

So coming across this on the Senscot email today was perfect.http://www.senscot.net/view_bull.php?viewid=17418 . Sums up the patience you need living in a place like Applecross. Taking your time over what you write and/or say rather than jumping in with both feet pays dividends in the long run.

“This is a famous Zen parable which has many iterations; it speaks of the wisdom of equanimity.

Once upon a time there was an old farmer who had worked his crops for many years. One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbours came to visit. “Such bad luck,” they said sympathetically. “Maybe,” the farmer replied. The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses. “How wonderful,” the neighbours exclaimed. “Maybe,” replied the old man. The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. The neighbours again came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune. “Maybe,” answered the farmer. The day after, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army. Seeing that the son’s leg was broken, they passed him by. The neighbours congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out.
“Maybe,” said the farmer.”

Better leave the two big national issues of today for a couple of days so they sink in. The local council election results to the south and the report issued by the LRRG, both falling into the “maybe” category. Another local “maybe” is a gear conflict meeting next week on Skye, I personally have not suffered any damage but hearing stories of gear towed and threats issued. “Maybe” the reintroduction of three-mile limit is heading our way through necessity. Back to a bright welcoming Dougal and Co before cooking a couple of beautiful steaks supplied by the Inn and before you know it, time for a sleep.



Knoydart Part 3, Leaving.

The prawns were pretty good and one was left on each plate until the plates were gathered and both were snapped up. It is all very well being polite but there are limits. The prawns were picked up at Armadale the previous evening from Duncan’s boat and were a decent size. The prawns were followed by chicken in honey and hazelnut and then by a lime sorbet…top food. Evening then flashed by and before you knew it the power down time had come along with the frantic carry out being organised just in case. Some way through the evening I remembered it was my birthday and Julia volunteered it was her’s as well. The obligatory Happy Birthday was sung and reminded me why I generally keep quiet about it. This followed by a Hip,hip hooray chorus, which in turn was followed by this explanation. Seems “Hip, Hip” may be connected to a Latin phrase meaning “Jerusalem has fallen” and was taken up by the Nazis up to and including WWII, becoming an anti semitic call. The things you learn on a LDO gathering are many and various. And even better was Morvern from south end of Mull finding out that the french translation of her wee nickname was fairly uncomplimentary, although I am a bit suspicious that this was made up on the hoof. But good night was had although background headache kept the evening to its proper length for me. Woke up a couple of times in the night thinking I was going to be in trouble but for some reason it did not develop and leaving Doune was as enjoyable as arriving. I know that sounds a little strange but I have always Applecross to come home to and I now have an amazing memory of Knoydart and have met some new and good people. The previous day there was a brief chat about the future of CAM and some figures were produced for the HIE Board that show the cost of the scheme  and the money that it has brought into fragile areas to be a pretty startling use of public money. Most of the monies raised are directly spent on infrastructure projects and either maintain or increase the viability of the communities concerned. Not only that but small and sustainable cottage industries can be attracted to these areas as basic services are improved or just kept.


So after breakfast, it was off down to the jetty in wonderful sunshine and the Gripper II took us to Armadale across a flat calm Sound of Sleat with a couple of porpoise sighting on the way over. The views back to Doune in the sunshine were wonderful.





The Mary Doune took the rest over to Mallaig with Andy at the wheel.


There was still plenty to talk about on the way across and we went into the new pier to offload.



From there it was up the road with Avril and Kristine on board with a wee stop in to see Nicola in her new shop in Isle Oronsay. Nicola was on the SEA course last year and used to work at Sabhal Mor, has had a baby and gone self-employed buying a little tweed shop. Leadership courses do work it seems although not for the college!!

After dropping the girls off at Strathcarron it was down Shieldaig Glen in the hope of a massage. Messages were left so I was not sure but the note left on the door meant it was going to be ok. A wander down to the new pontoon and a coffee with Linda, Kenny and Gemma followed by a good but painful massage and it was home by mid afternoon. The Shieldaig pontoon is yet another example of a few people getting together, and they benefit, the whole community benefits even more.


It was noticeable that we were still chatting all the way through the treatment, just the aftermath of Knoydart still working its way around the senses.  And back to the usual run of the mill problems….Filling Station shut down again and not accepting local cards so had to manually delivery fuel to the postie, but after the last couple of days you just put the hassles of every day life into its proper slot and get on with a good life. Dougal and tattie planting is now on the agenda.

The importance of being “Local”?

This is complicated and I am beginning to wonder if it is that important nowadays as the world has become so mobile and people move around so much to visit and live. A few comments have emerged over the past few weeks that made me think over a number of instances, some unpleasant and others pleasing. There are many interpretations of local and some can go back 3 or 4 generations. My family came over from Harris in the 1890s to the Crowlins, islands to the south of Toscaig. They came from Leac a Li ,a poor area of the island and they thought the Crowlins were a step up as they did not have a croft back “home”. Due to the generosity of the Toscaig inhabitants at the time they were able to establish themselves on the mainland during the first 20 years of the last century. My dad left Toscaig when he was married in the 50s and I was born and brought up in Inverness and Kyle. I came back to Toscaig in the 80s and been back almost 30 years even although I spent many holidays over here when at primary school. I have to say when the Kyle boys came over on The Golden Rule and beat everyone at 5-a-side football I was definitely from Kyle!! My point being am I a Hearach (Harris), or from Kyle , from Toscaig or does it really matter. When I hear the local argument it is usually at the end of a losing discussion and justifies the defeated, “oh well he/she is not local”. Rural areas in the west  have been depopulating for over 200 years,(3000 people used to live on the peninsula) and certainly here I think we are very close to danger point in being a working/viable community. I have been told that we are the smallest medical practice in terms of numbers on the mainland, our PO hours are constantly under threat, the shop has a constant battle in being a service to the community and being viable, the numbers living here mean that we struggle to provide care for the elderly. In the past there were larger family units that stepped in. Now elderly people who do not have this support system have to leave to receive the care they deserve within the community. Questions such as how many children at the school are local are no longer relevant. What is relevant is how many kids are at the school. At the last meeting both the Trust and the Community Company were in agreement that there needs to be more people living here. I am not going to mention the numbers because they will immediately be taken out of context and possibly frighten those of a more traditional bent.  Going back to the local question, I think it is what you do and not where you come from that makes you local. It is far harder to come into a community than be born in it and those that are already there have a duty to carry on the tradition of Highland Hospitality. Thank you for visiting/living in our beautiful land and in helping keeping or improving it. Without the help of those from outside Applecross we would already be dead in the water but with the people already here the future can be bright and actively encouraging new people to live here can give the area a fresh impetus. I think we desperately need more people to live here.

There was a post on Facebook that attracted my attention and it was an experiment an anthropologist carried out in Africa. He put a basket of fruit under a tree and told the children that who ever got to the basket first could have all the fruit. The children then all took each other by the hand  ran to the tree and shared the fruit. When asked why did one not take all the fruit the reply was why, if everyone else was unhappy in not getting any.This is summed up in the principle of Ubuntu and is ” I am because we are” and it reminded me the way the crofting system used to work here when the men of the village would gather the sheep together on the same day, shear or mark lambs at the fank and it would be so much easier everyone there doing everything. There was a sense of community that is lost now as there is on average only one working crofter in each village now who has sheep making it hard work to gather and shear. Although some of this “crofting community” was driven by sheer necessity and I am sure they had their scraps too it is something to aspire to where every one comes together to help every one. The one positive I love about being sort of local and that is spending time with an elder of the community, some one who has a wealth of stories and an irreverent humour, where time does not matter and you hear names you have forgotten as you only knew them as a boy on his holidays.

Tuesday saw me heading off to Srathcarron to meet up with a couple of fishermen from the south and an official of Marine Scotland. Unfortunately Kenny did not make it as there was a fatality at the stables, a biker losing control and leaving the road. The meeting in itself was not very productive but again Marine Scotland got the message that there is a group of fishermen wanting to conserve and bring back lost fisheries but we need help. I have this abiding desire to be among the first fishermen on the west coast to leave a fishery better than I found it. There is growing talk of the inevitable re introduction of the 3 mile limit as one of the ways to help us in our cause. We then can carry out our own conservation  ideas without the fear of them being towed away. Viv from Kishorn Seafood bar was saying exactly that tonight on telly.

Today was an Inverness trip and a Thai massage, badly overdue and gratefully received. Making sure I am MCA legal meant picking up a medical kit,ordering fire extinguishers and smoke alarms for the boat at Gaelforce and making sure there is food for Dougal’s return tomorrow. Some beautiful autumn scenes on the way after Achnasheen.

After a really chilled out afternoon in Sheildaig, not only the massage but a positive and relaxing chat about what is good about life and people, the colours coming over the Hill this evening were stunning.

By the time I arrived by the Inn and returned Judith’s “Flight mode” mobile phone there was a last hurrah of the sunset.

And finally just to note that Cuba arrived in style this week, in fact he did not want to leave.

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